From left: Dipak C. Jain, dean of the Kellogg School of Management, Gordon Segal, Carole Browe Segal, and Julio M. Ottino

McCormick Group

From left to right: Michael Marasco, Ann McKenna, Dean Julio M. Ottino, Rob Linsenmeier, and Steve Carr lead several new initiatives at McCormick.


Ajit Tamhane

Leading the way to excellence

Announcing four new initiatives at McCormick

Julio M. Ottino has been dean of the McCormick School for two years now — time enough for him to develop several new initiatives that will have a positive long-term impact on the school and its constituent groups. We outline four of them here and will continue to bring news about future initiatives to you in the next issues of the magazine.“We are pleased to announce these new initiatives to the McCormick community. They are directly linked to enhancing the quality of our students’ educational experience, and they support creativity and innovation — vital components for our success at McCormick,” says Ottino.

The Segal Design Institute

McCormick has long been a leader in design. In the 1990s the school launched its first initiative in design education: Engineering Design and Communication, in which first-year students take on the challenge of designing new products to solve real-world problems. In 2002 it began the Master’s of Product Development. In 2003 it formed the Institute for Design Engineering and Applications, which provides the curricula and facilities for an education in engineering design. And in 2005 it opened the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, a state-of-the-art facility that houses McCormick’s design programs.

Now a significant donation from Gordon and Carole Segal, cofounders of Crate and Barrel, establishes a new institute for design that will ensure that McCormick remains a leader in the field. The generous gift will create The Segal Design Institute, which will significantly expand McCormick’s existing undergraduate design curriculum, support the development of new master’s degree programs, and fund research on design.

“Design entails starting with poorly understood situations containing broad, imperfectly shared ideas, and gradually structuring these ideas to come up with solutions to problems,” said Julio M. Ottino, dean of McCormick. “We see design-think as a process that opens horizons and opens minds. For us, design-think provides a pathway toward innovation.”

“We are very excited to make a contribution to Northwestern that will enhance its reputation as a leader in design,” said Gordon Segal (Kellogg ’60), CEO of Crate and Barrel and member of the North­western University Board of Trustees. “Companies such as Crate and Barrel need graduates who have been exposed to the principles of design. Design is probably the biggest competitive advantage the United States has in a rapidly changing and highly competitive world.”

“We need to create and nurture individuals who can anticipate, identify, and fill the needs of society,” added Carole Browe Segal (Weinberg ’60), vice president of civic affairs of Crate and Barrel. “The Segal Design Institute will support creative design education for North­western students to meet those needs today and well into the future.”

The cross-school institute will foster curricular development and research in design across all schools at Northwestern. Ottino and Dipak Jain, dean of Kellogg, have worked to develop new cross-school graduate programs in design that build on Northwestern’s world-class programs in business education.

“At Northwestern we have students who receive a broad-based education that allows them to be innovative, and this institute will assist us greatly in those efforts,” said University President Henry S. Bienen. “It is a way to cross-link disciplines — engineering, business, medicine, communication, humanities — around a common objective.”

“We are very appreciative of this gift from Gordon and Carole Segal and their continuing support of the University, as well as their recognition of the importance of innovative design,” added Bienen. 

The codirectors of the institute will be Ed Colgate, a professor of mechanical engineering who is a leading researcher in the field of robotics, and Don Norman, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of psychology and author of numerous popular books on design, including The Design of Everyday Things.

Undergraduate Certificate Program in Managerial Analytics

A newly announced undergraduate certificate program will allow McCormick to leverage the strength of the Kellogg School of Management and McCormick’s quantitative edge to present an exciting new curricular option for McCormick students. The program — the Undergraduate Certificate Program in Managerial Analytics — will build on the analytical strengths of McCormick undergraduates and provide them with content relevant for careers at the nation’s elite management consulting firms and product or service companies.

“This program will provide better cross-linking with Kellogg and enhanced name recognition for McCormick due to Kellogg’s excellent reputation in the business world,’’ says Ottino. “More than 40 percent of our students go into consulting and finance, and an undergraduate business certificate program will better meet their needs.”          

While the Undergraduate Certificate Program in Managerial Analytics provides a unique opportunity for McCormick students, rigorous prerequisites in advanced mathematics, probability, and statistics will ensure that participants are drawn from McCormick’s most quantitatively capable students. Approximately 40 candidates will be admitted to the program in fall 2008.

The Kellogg School is also offering a Certificate Program in Financial Economics in partnership with the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences beginning fall 2007. This program will focus on corporate finance, capital markets, and securities pricing and has been developed for undergraduates with a strong foundation in analytics, mathematics, and economics. McCormick students pursuing a double major in economics will be able to apply for the Weinberg program.

“During my visits with corporate recruiters around the world, I’ve heard them express the need for college graduates who have a strong quantitative background rooted in the liberal arts and who are infused with business acumen,” says Dipak C. Jain, dean of the Kellogg School of Management. “The Kellogg faculty is very supportive of the new undergraduate certificate programs.”

The Kellogg course work will give McCormick undergraduates the opportunity to build on and apply their analytical skills in the context of finance, marketing, operations, and strategy. The program will require students to take a minimum of four courses chosen from a menu of six courses. Additional courses will be developed for the certificate program, primarily through the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at McCormick.

“This program should attract the most highly qualified high school graduates to McCormick,” says Ajit Tamhane, professor and chair of industrial engineering and management sciences. “We will be providing them a unique opportunity to participate in an innovative curriculum that has few peers in the country.”

Between their junior and senior years, students in the certificate program will pursue either a business internship or a research project with a faculty member. After students have completed their certificate requirements, Kellogg will help them with internship and job placement.

“We expect that the enhanced internship and job placement opportunities will assist our students in becoming McCormick’s future leaders,” says Ottino. “This is a win-win prop­osition for McCormick, Kellogg, and — most importantly — for the entire Northwestern community.”
Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The McCormick Advisory Council — the body of top advisers made up of executives, entrepreneurs, and academics, many of whom are McCormick alumni — met last fall with Dean Julio Ottino and charged him with a task: Find a way to educate McCormick students and faculty about entrepreneurship and innovation that capitalizes on the considerable strength of McCormick alumni in this area.

Ottino has found a solution: A new McCormick entity — the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation — will work to evolve engineering beyond the applications of the sciences to the creation of businesses that capitalize on innovations. The center will empower McCormick engineers with the skills to be successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

“Engineering is the application of the pure sciences,” says Ottino. “Science oftentimes is incomplete, and engineering thinking has to fill the gaps; that’s where innovation and entrepreneurship come in. We are investing in these areas by providing additional course work and a structure to coordinate related activities across the University.”

McCormick is well positioned to establish a new standard for engineering education by retooling many of its existing programs with a greater focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. “Design-think” — which is already in place at McCormick — will be greatly enhanced when students learn how their efforts can grow existing businesses (intrapreneurship) or create new businesses (entrepreneurship).

The new director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Inno­vation, Mike Marasco, has more than 20 years’ experience as an entrepreneur, intrapreneur, and innovation consultant. The center will focus on interdisciplinary curriculum development; empowerment of students, faculty, and alumni to think and work innovatively; corporate and community outreach; and research.

“We saw the need to develop a structure that will support the expansion of our undergraduate and graduate curriculums to include more exposure to innovation and entrepreneurship. We want to be the catalyst for bringing together faculty, students, and alumni with interest in these areas,” says Marasco, who is a clinical associate professor of industrial engineering and management sciences.

A new academic partnership under the Center for Entrepre­neur­ship and Innovation, NUvention, will expand Northwestern’s tradition of interdisciplinary study by piloting new courses that allow students to become entrepreneurs within a class setting. The first course supported by NUvention, Medical Innovation, will be offered this fall and will draw students from four Northwestern schools (McCormick, Kellogg, the School of Law, and the Feinberg School of Medicine) who are interested in turning ideas into new medical technologies. The course was developed through the active involve­ment of a new student organization focused on entrepreneurship, InNUvation. McCormick alumnus Ed Voboril has joined NUvention’s team as chair of the program.

Student involvement with entrepreneurship at Northwestern is high. A recent event supported by the center, Applied Research Day, drew more than 40 students who shared their entrepreneurial research with fellow students, faculty, venture capitalists, and representatives from industry. And NU Venture Challenge, a business idea competition sponsored by alumnus Bob Shaw and scheduled for May, has already attracted more than 200 applicants.

Marasco plans to create networking opportunities for McCormick alumni; a speaker program for faculty, students, and alumni to foster a culture of innovation; and workshops on relevant topics in the field. “We want to create new cross-school initiatives and better utilize our many successful entrepreneurial alumni,” he says.

Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research

Engineering and engineering education in the future will be radically different. The engineering profession will require technical expertise combined with creativity and tempered by a sophisticated appreciation of human needs. That view is quite different from the “traditional” concept of an engineer: the introvert who is good at math and science and is content to work alone to solve problems. In contrast, engineering solutions to modern technological needs require ongoing collaboration and teamwork, leadership, and adaptability.

The mission of the new Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research (NCEER) is to be a catalyst for transforming engineering education locally, nationally, and globally. It aims to build a community that conducts leading research on how to best educate engineering students as adaptive experts who can predict and solve global technological challenges. The center will support interdisciplinary research in engineering education, cultivating relationships within McCormick, across Northwestern, and with other universities with similar aims. It will be an authoritative resource and disseminator for new research about engineering education.

The center is codirected by Rob Linsenmeier, professor of biomedical engineering and neurobiology and physiology, and Ann McKenna, director of education improvement at McCormick. They have worked with Steve Carr, associate dean for undergradu­ate engineering, to develop the center and have invited 50 faculty and staff members from four Northwestern schools to become “NCEER Scholars.”

This community of scholars will create the infrastructure needed to carry out and evaluate experiments in engineering education. Thus, the Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research will be one of the premier research communities investigating engineering thinking and determining how to cultivate this aptitude in students. Among the initial group of scholars are faculty already working on funded research projects in the areas of bio­engineering education, nanotechnology education, spatial learning, design education, and “agent-based” modeling.

“We feel that we need the expertise of faculty and staff across the University in order for us to develop the most effective engineering educational practices,” says McKenna.

NCEER is off to a good start. Northwestern recently received a $940,000 award from the National Science Foundation to explore the role of computational adaptive expertise in design and innovation. All of the principal investigators on the award are NCEER Scholars.

“Cross-school collaborations of this sort enhance the national impact of the educational research that we conduct at Northwestern,” says Penelope Peterson, dean of the School of Education and Social Policy and a member of NCEER’s development team.

A near-term goal for the center is to invite speakers to a seminar series at Northwestern. NCEER is working with the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence to cohost distinguished lecturers over the next few years. In doing so, NCEER will bring in leading figures in engineering education and lend recognition to the innovative research in engineering teaching and learning at Northwestern.

“We want to bring experts in educational practice to McCormick and provide ideas about where we should go next,” says Carr. “Our goal is to give visibility to our excellent but dispersed education programs and provide support for new pedagogical and curricular change in engineering education.”

— Gina Myerson